Ever since its construction in 1905, the house at 110 Main Street has added architectural and historical significance to Boise. It was originally built and owned by Timothy Regan, a successful hotel and mine owner from Silver- and Idaho City. Regan’s wealth contributed greatly to urban development, as he became an influential businessman and bank chairman for the growing Boise community.
Though Regan had intended the house for his family’s residence, it remained in their possession for only one generation. The most immediate reason for this was the death of the eldest son, John (during his service in World War I), a tragedy which quickly destroyed the family. But the home’s history of misfortune did not end with the Regans’ departure, for another death would soon haunt the house. In the mid-twentieth century, little Mary Bell was accidentally shot by her brother’s friend while looking out the back window. And, when the house became a fraternity decades later, students claimed to see an apparition of a little girl. Sometimes she came as a ray of light, other times as a vague figure, one who apparently found enjoyment in misplacing and hiding things. How much of this story is a figment of the blissful (or intoxicated) imagination of college students is important to consider, but even the current owner has had similar experiences with the little ghost. In fact, his children often played upstairs with a girl that seemed to appear out of nowhere. Sadly, as the kids got older, the little girl began to shy away; and since the kids? moved out, she rarely manifests herself at all.
Young death was not the only thing to darken the house in its early days. A second-level porch, with white Corinthian columns, once surrounded much of the early structure. While this feature added to the home’s exterior appeal, owners frequently complained of its interior affects. Since it prevented most of the light from entering the house’s lower level, the living room and dining room always appeared dark. The majority of the porch was therefore removed in the 1940’s, but its stone foundation and wall supports remain, continuing to hint at the former structure. In addition, the upper balcony above the front door remains intact. Surrounded by full-height columns and topped by a triangular tympanum, the house is an impressive example of neoclassical design.
Excepting the removal of the upper-level porch, very little renovation has taken place within the house. The interior still contains the original heaters and doorknobs, the latter of which are so intricately designed that their cost rivals the construction of neighboring houses. Furthermore, the woodwork within the house is just as remarkable. Each door is made of two types of wood, either side matching the design of its associated room. The salon, for example, is comprised of bird’s eye maple, the living room of oak, and the dining room of cherry. And, within the salon, another unique feature of the house is apparent. Original frescoes, some of the only in Boise, were recently discovered beneath layers of wallpaper. Though extensive damage has been done, three walls have been carefully recovered.
In addition to the home’s stylistic additions, many features are historic testaments to the period of construction. In the dining room, for example, a switch lies in the floor beneath the table, situated so that the head of the table could signal servants to bring the next course. A separate staircase also leads directly from the servant rooms into the kitchen, preventing any unnecessary interaction between owner and worker. But aside from servant accommodations, the house also contains a unique system of plumbing. Built before bathrooms could accommodate pipes for both a toilet and sink, the house includes separate rooms each. And, unlike anything seen today, each bedroom, including the servant rooms, contains a built-in, private sink.
And finally, the house includes an array of other distinctive features. Visible from the street, the house has a fake widows walk, one which actually disguises a large sun roof. Then, in the fireplace, lies perhaps the home’s most remarkable feature- gold. Taken from one of Regan’s own mines, gold is laced throughout the tile in a lovely floral design. Its sparkle, enhanced by the light streaming in through leaded, beveled windows, captures your attention as soon as you enter the house. And one final feature, the house was constructed and continues to be heated by Boise’s natural resources. The sandstone that covers the exterior, for example, came from the Old Penitentiary quarry, and the home is, to this day, heated by Warm Springs geothermal activity. So the striking home you see on Main Street is not simply an example of fine architecture, it is, in itself, a significant piece of Boise’s landscape and history.